First Friday of Lent/Feb 27

Isaiah 6:1-6 (ESV)

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

What things keep us from coming to God? Could shame or fear be part of it? What about the less than pure thoughts, emotions and actions we don’t want to own?  In our day to day lives we may don a mask, so no one sees beneath the surface. But here’s the thing: what lies beneath is the very thing that could bring us into his presence.  We get there through honesty and willingness to see.  The mask and the false things we cling to are illusions which need to be owned and named, but God desires more for us than simply adhering to a moral code.  The God of Love desires relationship.  Time and again, I’ve seen how he pours out life and freedom and love when I come to him in truth.

What about our image of God?  If this were our only view of him, we might all be afraid to draw near.  I’m thankful that God loved us enough to draw near, before we were even aware.  And that we can not only draw near but know and experience him.  1 Peter 1 says, “By his divine power, God has given us all the things we need for life and for true devotion that allow us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In this gift, God has given us a guarantee of something very great and wonderful. Through this gift, we are sharers in the divine nature itself.”

This is a beautiful reminder.  It takes fear out of the picture for me, and beckons me to come and sit at his feet.  Are there any things – past or present — that you feel you can’t bring into your prayer life? How do you think God feels about it? Ask him to give you a new image of his love, and to show you how he is with you in all your life experiences, the joyous, painful, unjust, or even shameful. Reflect on Jesus’ examples of lovingkindness and compassion, especially for the weak, the outcast, the despised the lonely, the powerless. Hear the following as God’s invitation into his loving presence: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Today’s prayer practice: praying the psalmist’s prayers. Pray the following with an open heart as you enter into your prayer time:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”  Amen.


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